Pillar of Offense: Israel's Latest Attack on Gaza
A Special Report by the Activestills Collective
Photos by: Anne Paq, Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Ryan Rodrick Beiler
Edited by: Keren Manor, Shiraz Grinbaum
The hostility between Israel and Gaza last peaked in 2008, with the Israeli military’s unprecedented “Operation Cast Lead” that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. Four years later, in a similarly suspicious proximity to Israeli elections, reports of escalation flooded Israeli mainstream media.
Using old slogans like "the need to restore deterrence", Israeli leaders heated the border by assassinating Hamas military chief Ahmad Jabari on November 10, 2012. As was well discussed in alternative and mainstream media, Jabari had just received a draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, from the Israeli mediator Gershon Baskin, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip.
Instead of a truce, Israeli launched an eight-day attack on Gaza, referred to by Israeli officials as “Operation Pillar of Defense", which killed some 166 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,000. During the escalation in violence, five Israelis were killed by rockets fired from Gaza, some missiles reaching the central city of Tel-Aviv for the first time.
This photo essay tells the story of these eight days, as seen through the eyes of the civil population in Gaza, Israel, and Palestinians in the West Bank. The latter suffered its own casualties, as three Palestinians were killed in protests that were violently suppressed by Israeli forces. Dozens there were also wounded, and at least 200 arrested.
The violence subsided following a ceasefire brokered by Egyptian leaders on November 21. The deal included an expansion of the distance Gaza fishermen will be allowed to access offshore to six nautical miles instead of only three. Under the Oslo Accords, Gaza fishermen should have access to 20 nautical miles. Conflicting reports have also suggested greater access to the 300-meter “no-go zone” Israel has enforced within Gaza’s land border.
However, within days of the ceasefire, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian as he tried to place a Palestinian flag near the border during a demonstration. Such actions indicate that a temporary truce does not put an end to the siege on Gaza, neither does it put an end to Israeli occupation over Palestine. It is yet another hollow declaration within a political game aimed to please the American government and to gain political strength.